Bill preventing TennCare from covering gender care moves forward in the legislature

Patient waiting at doctor's office
Posted at 5:38 PM, Feb 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-14 20:13:39-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A bill to block TennCare — and their contracted insurance companies from covering any sort of gender-affirming care — made its way through a subcommittee on Tuesday.

The bill’s sponsors believe Tennessee taxpayers shouldn’t pay for this type of treatment. On behalf of Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, took to the floor to explain HB 1215.

Rudd at one point said the bill was introduced to reflect and protect the values of Tennesseans, but not all residents feel the same way.

Seven people got up to testify in front of the committee. They all asked them to vote "no" on this bill. Many of them are concerned about how this would impact the less fortunate. Right now, TennCare approximately serves 1.7 million people.

"My body feels crazy because we are here watching as our lawmakers are throwing aside laws to make a stab at the trans community in our state, so it hurts," said Cannon County resident Lynne Purvis.

Purvis did her homework and argued similar bills in other states brought about lawsuits. She wasn’t the only ally there.

"It was very disheartening after listening to the testimony of so many people, who are sharing firsthand accounts of the care they are currently receiving and how this will affect them," said Davidson County resident Malcolm Brown.

People against the bill said they thought it will harm the transgender community making it harder to access healthcare, while Rudd doesn't think so. The state doesn't track transitional care and surgeries are excluded from TennCare coverage. The state has partnerships with three managed care organizations: UnitedHealthcare, BlueCare, and Amerigroup.

"This bill doesn’t deny treatment. It doesn't deny access to the transgender community or any community to healthcare. If they need medical treatment or counseling for this or for a broken leg, they can’t deny treatment," Rudd said.

Despite there being a few questions from lawmakers, the majority of the group decided to move the bill forward.

The bill passed the first step, and it will take many more for it to actually become law.

Get NewsChannel 5 Now, wherever, whenever, always free.

Watch the live stream below, and download our apps on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and more. Click here to learn more.